The HSE overspend this year will not jump to the €2.2 billion the health service predicted back in March, the Health Minister has insisted.
Record funding of just over €21bn was announced in the 2023 HSE Service Plan earlier this year – an increase of 5.7% on 2022.
At the time, however, HSE Chief Bernard Gloster warned that even more would be needed, with the Ukraine War, labour market issues and the ‘ever-changing demands’ on the health system making it difficult to plan for the full year.
The service plan noted that the HSE and Department of Health disagreed on the extent of the financial issues facing the health service, with the HSE warning that it would need around 10% more than it was allocated – working out at around €2.2bn.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly insisted that the overspend would not be that high.
“I know to the end of July, [the overrun] is between €500 and €600m,” he said before clarifying that the exact figure is €576m.
Asked how that would balloon to €2.2bn, he insisted it would not.
“There will be no jump to €2.2bn,” he said.
“So, to the end of July, it was under €600m. About three-quarters of that is down to higher prices than the HSE was budgeted for and higher numbers of patients being treated than the HSE was provisioned for.
“About one-quarter of the overrun is things like agency overtime and hiring into posts that don’t have funding.”
Minister Donnelly said his department is “working very, very closely with the HSE on identifying the areas of spend that should not be happening and bringing them down in the short-term”.
He admitted that the critical issue is that the HSE overspends on its budget every year.
“We need proper structural solutions to this,” he said.
“Part of it is around modernising our health service and part of it is around having the proper financial management system in place and we are half through rolling that out at the moment as well.”